They said that Test cricket was dead, the players of England and Australia proved that is far from the case. All twenty-two deserve to take a bow for delivering both entertainment and excitement. It was one of those games where one felt no one deserved to lose, so much did fortune fluctuate.
Sadly the whole game has been tainted by the debate over whether Stuart Broad should have walked when he blatantly edged the ball to first slip.
In truth the game was influenced far too much by the DRS or video umpire. Technology is great if it enhances and improves the decision making process so that there are far less errors made, but there still appears to be some doubt over some of the decisions made. The fact that the umpires on the pitch feel the need to go to video referral admits that there is some doubt over the dismissal, so they should consult their partner out at the wicket and then as per the laws of the game “If, after consultation, there is still doubt remaining, the decision shall be Not out.” This however no longer occurs at test match level.
In the past many a batsman failed to do the honourable thing and walk when he had edged the ball and waited for a decision from and umpire. His view being that there will be many a time that he is given out when he has not in fact touched the ball, or LBW when he has. Therefore such decisions even themselves out over the course of time.
In fact most young players when they step into the semi-professional and professional areas of the game are instructed not to walk as the umpire is paid to make a decision. This ultimately must come down to the individual. Former Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist felt it was the right thing to do, yet many of his team mates berated him for doing what is honourable.
The video referral has brought this issue even more into question. Chris Broad is being given plenty of bad press because he did not walk in England’s second innings. Australia had no referral’s left so he remained at the crease, as he is entitled to do. Did he know he had hit the ball? Only he can answer that, although it would seem hard to believe if he claimed he did not.
The final wicket to fall was Australia’s gallant Brad Haddin, an inside edge caught by Matt Prior of James Anderson. Did he know he had edged it? If so why did he not walk? Judging by the way his head turns to see if Prior gathers the ball cleanly one would have to think that he knew he had in fact edged the ball. Once again only he can tell us whether he knew he did touch it.
Realistically though how many players would have walked in such a situation? One wicket remaining 14 runs to win in a series that is going to be hard fought and closer than many predicted, very few would have admitted a touch so faint. No one would have wanted to walk in that situation.
Honour and tradition are wonderful things, and sometimes it is best left to the players, certainly if the television replay is not 100% conclusive. Gone are the days where the batsman would ask the fielder if he was sure the ball carried and then when advised it had would walk. Who can forget Rod Marsh calling Derek Randall back in the Centenary Test in Melbourne who had been given out, because Marsh knew the ball had not carried. How would Rod Marsh be treated today for showing such sportsmanship, and holding up the standards that saw cricket for many years reflect the standards of everyday life.
In life there are no referrals nor are there video replays. Is cricket better for such technology? Would Australia have won the test match without video referral, because Haddin did not walk? It is sad that following such a great game that much of the debate will rage on about the use of video referral’s and the captain’s use of them. Sadly that is simply part of the game evolving, whether it is for the better time will tell. There is no doubt it adds to the drama and the debate and has become a major part of the viewing experience, but one can’t help feeling that the game at times is not the better for it.